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LifeLab works with students to co-create exam stress resource

Front cover of exam resource

Our autumn term Youth Panel have created and produced an online, interactive guide for students aimed at helping them navigate exam stress and look after their mental and physical health during the stressful exam period.

The 19-page digital resource covers topic areas such as healthy eating, sleeping and time management and provides students with ideas, strategies, and tips to manage exam pressure and anxiety.

The panel of four girls and two boys from years 11 and 12 in schools and colleges in Southampton and Hampshire, worked with the LifeLab team and colleagues from the University of Southampton to pool their own and their peers’ experience of exam stress and management with the experts’ advice, to co-create the content in the resource.

Youth Panel member Emily explains why she joined the Panel: “I wanted to make sure that young people felt heard and understood on a subject that concerned them. I wanted to make sure that our resource was created by young people, for young people. I'm so pleased that I got to share the voice and opinions of other young people and have the privilege of working with such amazing team members.”

As part of LifeLab’s commitment to ensuring young people are embedded at the heart of everything we do, we launched our Youth Panel in 2022. Employing a group of six young people at a time over the course of a school term, we work with the panel for three hours each week; one hour in an online discussion group and two hours on independent tasks. To date, we have had five youth panels, all focusing on a different output.

Another Youth Panel member, Esther, is very proud of the Panel’s output: “I understand how big and scary exams feel and I can't do anything to change that but in order to make sure students are feeling their best when going into the exams it is important to look after their mind and body, and this resource will guide them in the right direction to do just that.”

We are proud of this part of our programme which has proved to be an effective way to employ young people, so that they can co-create with us and be firmly embedded in the work we do, but actually be paid and valued for their time and commitment.

Dr Clare Merivale, Widening Participation Coordinator at the University of Southampton worked with LifeLab and the Panel on the exam resource: “What this Youth Panel has produced is brilliant and such an important tool for their fellow students. Working with young people in this way to co-create, means the outputs really stay true to the vision and words of the young people themselves and they should be very proud. In the Access team we are currently bringing this strand of essential co-creation into other areas of our work with students under the age of 16. The LifeLab Youth Panel is an asset to our work with schools and colleges locally and gives students a real insight into work at the University and the University Hospital.”